- Paperback: 265 pages
- Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (16 June 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 146101543X
- ISBN-13: 978-1461015437
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.6 x 21.6 cm
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #7,62,097 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Decoding Air Travel: A Guide to Saving on Airfare and Flying in Luxury Paperback – Import, 16 Jun 2011
About the Author
Nicholas Kralev is an author, journalist and speaker on global travel, diplomacy and international affairs. A former Financial Times and Washington Times correspondent, he has traveled around the world with four U.S. secretaries of state - Hillary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell and Madeleine Albright. He has flown almost 2 million miles and visited more than 80 countries. He is also the founder and CEO of Kralev International LLC, a travel consulting and training company.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The author has a website, and also offers seminars on the topic. Now, imagine my surprise, though, when I received a call from the author, after filling out the "challenge" form on his website, to help me get from the US to Asia in comfort and w/o spending an arm and a leg! We chatted for about 15 minutes, and while that doesn't necessarily pertain to reviewing the book itself, it may serve as evidence that the author not only knows what he's taking about, but also is very willing and able(!) to help you leverage that knowledge and experience. While you argue that reading his book should have enabled me to find those seats, myself, I just don't always have the time to so the research he lays out is necessary, and am willing to have pros do that for me, on occasion. Overall, highly recommended for road warriors and casual travelers alike.
To be fair, Kralev's introduction clarifies that the time required to master his strategy likely isn't worth it for leisure travelers flying once or twice a year (though one might argue that revelation only follows the purchase of the book...). And the book did have three big pluses for me: (1) it provides a peak behind the curtain obscuring airline pricing and practices; (2) it gives a balanced look at the practical benefits and failings of the biggest frequent flier programs; and (3) is a well-written, entertaining yarn, that accessibly translates complex techniques.
However, one of Kralev's stated goals is "to give ordinary people . . . the opportunity to travel to other countries, experience different cultures and try to understand points of view they may not agree with." While that goal is laudable, it's unlikely that most travelers will get much closer to it by reading this book. Let's face it, the lowest threshold for domestic airline rewards, 25,000 miles, is hard to hit, and 100,000 for the top "elite" category is a pipe dream for most people. Indeed, Kralev's focus on the perks associated with elite status will likely be off-putting for more modest travelers (I'm sorry you got stuck with a sandwich instead of a salad during meal-service, Kralev. I'd be sorrier if I weren't still stuck in the airport after your elite self jumped my place on the standby list).
Kralev does throw a few tidbits to the hoi polloi: family travel banking the miles necessary to save on future bag fees, for example, but most families can't afford one much less two flights a year. Likewise, his tip to use points on domestic flights for international travel is well-taken, but a free upgrade doesn't do anything to defray the $1000+ cost of a coach seat on the cheapest international flights. Further, Kralev spent relatively little time on the downside of points accumulation: the airlines move reward targets arbitrarily; points usually expire after a year; and non-flying mile accumulation methods like airline charge cards come with huge downsides, such as higher interest rates and fees.
Don't get me wrong, this is a superb book for those whose work or lifestyle involve frequent travel. I also love to read about the inner-workings of industry, so enjoyed the more academic appeal of the book. However, readers should not expect this book will allow them to leverage the annual family flight home for Christmas into a first-class European vacation on United. The Kralev meal comes with a full shift in the kitchen, washing up.
Thanks to Mr. Kralev's book, we are now taking advantage of mileage points and perks that we didn't know we were entitled to. It was easy to qualify for Elite status, and knowledge is indeed power: now we are more prepared, and less anxious before each flight, because we now have a plan to help us do 3 key things:
1) Seek upgrades to lessen the pain of air travel;
2) Find out about flight delays and cancellations before other passengers, so we can re-book even before leaving home for the airport; and
3) Seek compensation when airline staff treat us poorly.
Let's face it: sometimes the airlines really play dirty, and one often feels ill-treated. This book gives you both armor and new hope that you can actually begin to ENJOY traveling again. At first, I balked at the high price of the book. Now, having read and re-read it, it has already saved me plenty of money, and provided a lot of fun by learning the behind-the-scenes tricks of the trade. I recommend it most highly.
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